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Endgame

John Bayley, 17 March 1988

End of a Journey: An Autobiographical Journal 1979-1981 
by Philip Toynbee.
Bloomsbury, 422 pp., £25, February 1988, 0 7475 0132 7
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... but he usually pays for it by not being able to write naturally himself. It seems likely that Philip Toynbee would have given anything to be a real novelist and a real poet, but in his ‘experimental’ novels – Tea with Mrs Goodman and The Garden to the Sea – and in the gargantuan poem Pantaloon which occupied him for so many years, the words ...

Seeing the light

Patricia Beer, 16 July 1981

Part of a Journey: An Autobiographical Journal 1977-1979 
by Philip Toynbee.
Collins, 398 pp., £9.95, April 1981, 0 00 211696 0
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... man, so that his sins simply fall away from him, to be replaced by present joy and future hope.’ Philip Toynbee introduces Part of a Journey with a Which-type survey of the various concepts, and consequent terminology, of religious conversion, at one point making it sound like the best china (‘ “Rebirth” should be kept for very special ...

The Strange Case of Peter Vansittart

Martin Seymour-Smith, 6 March 1986

Aspects of Feeling 
by Peter Vansittart.
Peter Owen, 251 pp., £10.95, January 1986, 0 7206 0637 3
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... historian and writer for children, has been singled out for praise by critics as diverse as Philip Toynbee, Francis King, Angus Wilson and Andrew Sinclair. All feel that he lacks the large audience he deserves. Yet the curious reader, anxious to gain more information about this somewhat enigmatic writer, of undoubted power (and above all ...

Anglo-America

Stephen Fender, 3 April 1980

The London Yankees: Portraits of American Writers and Artists in England, 1894-1914 
by Stanley Weintraub.
W.H. Allen, 408 pp., £7.95, November 1979, 0 491 02209 3
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The Americans: Fifty Letters from America on our Life and Times 
by Alistair Cooke.
Bodley Head, 323 pp., £5.95, October 1979, 0 370 30163 3
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... to America, which has been fashionable ever since Stephen Spender’s Love-Hate Relations. Philip Toynbee, in the Observer, came right out with it: ‘by now it is hard to see any reason why an American writer or artist should wish to settle either in Paris or London.’ Then, of course, it was another matter. James, Whistler, Sargent, Mark ...

Do come to me funeral

Mary Beard: Jessica Mitford, 5 July 2007

Decca: The Letters of Jessica Mitford 
edited by Peter Sussman.
Weidenfeld, 744 pp., £25, November 2006, 0 297 60745 6
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... their careers. H.W. Stubbs of Charterhouse went on to teach classics at the University of Exeter. Philip Toynbee was expelled from Rugby, but then handed over to the monks of Ampleforth to be crammed, successfully, for a history scholarship to Oxford. John Peet ended up as head of the Reuters bureau in Berlin, before defecting to the East in 1950. Gavin ...

Minimalism

David Pears, 19 February 1987

A.J. Ayer 
by John Foster.
Routledge, 307 pp., £12, October 1985, 9780710206022
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Voltaire 
by A.J. Ayer.
Weidenfeld, 182 pp., £14.95, September 1986, 0 297 78880 9
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Fact, Science and Morality: Essays on A.J. Ayer’s ‘Language, Truth and Logic’ 
edited by Graham Macdonald and Crispin Wright.
Blackwell, 314 pp., £27.50, January 1987, 0 631 14555 9
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... His thought is agile and strong and it is always expressed with perfect economy and lucidity. Philip Toynbee once compared him to the master of a gymnasium, lithe, elegant and ready to take on all comers: one by one, the great problems of philosophy advanced on him like Sumo wrestlers, only to be laid flat by a flick of the wrist. That fits ...

Strait is the gate

Frank Kermode, 2 June 1988

Gorbals Boy at Oxford 
by Ralph Glasser.
Chatto, 184 pp., £11.95, May 1988, 0 7011 3185 3
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... Richard Crossman for his ‘moral laziness and hypocrisy’, exposing the bogus proletarianism of Philip Toynbee and William Beveridge’s remoteness from the lives of the people whose social welfare he is planning. Later he courts, but sees through, Harold Laski and Victor Gollancz. He takes tea with the Master of Balliol, sails expensive boats, gets on ...

The Art of Self-Defeat

Noël Annan, 19 July 1984

Faces of PhilipA Memoir of Philip Toynbee 
by Jessica Mitford.
Heinemann, 175 pp., £9.95, July 1984, 0 434 46802 9
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... Although I was Philip Toynbee’s exact contemporary, I did not know him all that well: but I was always struck by the quite exceptional devotion of those who did. They found him lovable; and when he and Ben Nicolson founded a luncheon club they flocked to it. He was affectionate and generous, marvellously funny but convinced that the world in which he lived was insufferable and that he must do what he could to save it ...

Tolkien’s Spell

Peter Godman, 21 July 1983

The Monsters and the Critics, and Other Essays 
by J.R.R. Tolkien, editor Christopher Tolkien .
Allen and Unwin, 240 pp., £9.95, March 1983, 0 04 809019 0
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TheRoad to Middle-Earth 
by T.A. Shippey.
Allen and Unwin, 252 pp., £9.95, September 1982, 0 04 809018 2
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Finn and Hengest: The Fragment and the Episode 
 by J.R.R. Tolkien, editor Alan Bliss.
Allen and Unwin, 180 pp., £9.95, January 1983, 0 04 829003 3
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... by discussing the reception of The Lord of the Rings. The critical judgments of reviewers such as Philip Toynbee and Edmund Wilson are explained by the animosity generated by the Oxford English School’s old and false distinction between Language and Literature. Tolkien had little time for literary critics, although literary criticism was an activity ...

Demi-Paradises

Gabriele Annan, 7 June 1984

Milady Vine: The Autobiography of Philippe de Rothschild 
edited by Joan Littlewood.
Cape, 247 pp., £10.95, June 1984, 0 224 02208 3
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I meant to marry him: A Personal Memoir 
by Jean MacGibbon.
Gollancz, 182 pp., £10.95, May 1984, 0 575 03412 2
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... they swung along they sang the ‘Internationale’. Jean was proud of knowing all the verses, but Philip Toynbee ‘could be heard intoning his own version of the advertisement for Horlicks Malted Milk: “Masturbation not Night Starvation’”. In fact, the Communist Party version was ‘Masturbation not Mass Starvation’. The MacGibbons assumed that ...

Out of Sight, out of Mind

Frank Kermode: A.J. Ayer’s Winning Ways, 15 July 1999

A.J. Ayer: A Life 
by Ben Rogers.
Chatto, 402 pp., £20, June 1999, 9780701163167
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... grander, the pleasures of the town, not least dancing and seduction (‘great fun,’ as he and Philip Toynbee agreed). And of course there was Tottenham Hotspur, and Ayer was a pioneer intellectual football fan. However, in 1959 he applied for and got the Wykeham Chair of Logic and went back to Oxford, a place he professed not to like. He was nearly ...

Nit, Sick and Bore

India Knight: The Mitfords, 3 January 2002

The Mitford Girls: The Biography of an Extraordinary Family 
by Mary Lovell.
Little, Brown, 611 pp., £20, September 2001, 0 316 85868 4
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Nancy Mitford: A Memoir 
by Harold Acton.
Gibson Square, 256 pp., £16.99, September 2001, 1 903933 01 3
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... Salman Rushdie’? Like it or not, the joke is pure Mitford (as was Decca’s voice, described by Philip Toynbee as ‘a curiously cadenced sing-song which would have been grotesquely affected had it not been even more grotesquely natural’). Decca’s moral courage is present also, less appetisingly, in Diana, whom Lovell never quite pins down ...

Really Very Exhilarating

R.W. Johnson: Macmillan and the Guardsmen, 7 October 2004

The Guardsmen: Harold Macmillan, Three Friends and the World They Made 
by Simon Ball.
HarperCollins, 456 pp., £25, May 2004, 0 00 257110 2
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... as merely absurd.’ He spoke, feelingly, of his sense of belonging to a ‘lost world’. Philip Toynbee, reviewing the book, concluded that Chandos had not understood the war he had fought in. But for all the dramas of wartime and the high political world, it is this collision of the guardsmen with the world of the 1960s which strikes the ...

When the pistol goes off

Peter Clarke, 17 August 1989

Arnold ToynbeeA Life 
by William McNeill.
Oxford, 346 pp., £16.95, July 1989, 0 19 505863 1
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... currently selling 1,500,000 copies. For the editors, as they put it, ‘the story of Historian Toynbee and his work in progress was an unusual challenge and opportunity.’ The response was ‘overwhelming’, and not only from ‘professors of history, philosophy and anthropology, from deans of American colleges and universities, heads of public and ...

Who was David Peterley?

Michael Holroyd, 15 November 1984

... but their fears of becoming the dupes of a sinister literary plot now seem exaggerated. Philip Toynbee, for example, who declared that he had never really been taken in for a minute, his scepticism having been awakened early on by the frontispiece (you can’t get much earlier in a book than its frontispiece), obviously had been taken in and ...

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